Hit with a sudden urge to seek out Mediterranean flavors, I visited both Zitouna and Tajine in the last few weeks. Short version: had a great time at both.
Zitouna: This tiny cafe is definitely the more casual of the two places. It's open for lunch as well, though I believe closed on Mondays. Service is casual and very friendly, and food comes out quickly. I don't know that I have a favorite dish here, but I loved the hummus. They also talk up their falafel wrap, so I'll be back for that. This feels like the kind of place to grab a quick lunch or have a casual dinner with a few people.
Tajine: They moved from their casual Polk Street cafe into a shared space with a bar/lounge. The ambiance is still very casual, but now guests sit at low pillows and sofas around metal Moroccan tables. I was fine with the low seating, but it was not the most comfortable dining position. Favorite dish by a long shot was the lamb tajine in white beans. I had the same dish at Zitouna, and it was good there but the flavors really popped at Tajine. The warm Moroccan bread with split pea dip (very cumin-y) was also a table favorite. Prices aren't much more than at Zitouna, but the space is more conducive to large groups or lingering over dinner. They also take reservations.
Cous cous at both places was fluffy, flavorful, and served with a nice variety of vegetables. Mint tea at each was good, but I noticed at Tajine the servers put on a bit of a show pouring the tea at a distance of two to three feet.
1201 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109
2080 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA